"In her brilliant book The Skeleton Crew, Deborah Halber explains why local law enforcement often fails to investigate [John and Jane Doe] deaths … While the population of the anonymous dead receives only scant attention from the police or the media, it has given rise to a macabre subculture of Internet sleuthing. Ms. Halber chronicles with lucidity and wit how amateur investigators troll websites … and check online databases looking for matches between the reported missing and the unidentified dead.”
“The Skeleton Crew is a carefully crafted account of an intriguing new opportunity for arm chair sleuths. Thanks to the Internet, anyone with a computer, curiosity, patience, and a passion for justice can enter the dark world of missing persons and unsolved homicides. It’s fascinating to learn how such matches are made and heartening to witness the growing cooperation between law enforcement and ordinary citizens whose persistence can sometimes crack the code in cold cases that have languished unresolved for years. I loved it.”
"Halber writes vividly and engagingly about long-ago crimes and the modern-day detectives who breathe new life into closed cases… With Halber they have found a loving home, where they are portrayed as larger than life characters and lauded as heroes."
"Halber weaves together a half-dozen cold cases, and delivers brief profiles of scores of tangential characters. She’s an engaging, artful writer, which helps as the narrative threads start to get tangled."
“In all of the cold cases I deal with, the victims are identified. …I never once thought about a case where someone stumbles upon a pile of human bones in their backyard and the victim needs to be identified. The book opened up a new world to me, someone who thought they had seen it all. I look forward to more from Deborah Halber.”
"Death be not proud: Against all odds, the web sleuths are succeeding in providing tips crucial to solving cases, some decades old, and demonstrating that the persistence and power of crowdsourcing can alter the way law enforcement has traditionally interacted with the public. The Skeleton Crew is an engrossing foray into a most curious treasure hunt."
“Halber tells the story of these fascinating web sleuths, both humanizing the searchers and the unidentified remains, some of which, like the Lady of the Dunes, remain unidentified by the book’s end, and the scientific research and clear explanations resonate with a general audience.”
”Halber follows stories of other volunteers through a handful of exceptional cases, most still unsolved. Many of the details are gruesome and the search for justice inconclusive, but the journey is fascinating. Mystery and true crime readers will especially enjoy this book.”
“As promised by its subtitle, [The Skeleton Crew] is all about ‘how amateur sleuths are solving America’s coldest cases.’ It’s about the internet and obsession and the incredible feats of crime-solving that everyday people have pulled off with a little help from Google. And it’s so great! You needn’t be into the cold case thing to find these people and stories utterly fascinating.”
“From home-computer screens to a new national database, join The Skeleton Crew for a page-turning behind-the-scenes look at the world of Internet sleuths who give names to the men and women who have died without identity. For the first time ever, readers are brought the real-life cases of missing persons, the unidentified dead, and the network of people that gives them their names . . . proving once again what I said at the conclusion of every episode of America’s Most Wanted: ‘One person can make a difference.’”
“In this highly addictive story-within-a-story narrative, Deborah Halber skillfully exposes the complex Internet subculture of amateur sleuths. The people who obsess over the fates and identities of Jane and John Does are puzzles in themselves, which adds a fascinating layer to this captivating book. The Skeleton Crew will likely inspire many more case resolutions.”
"These days, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes like Sherlock Holmes; all you need is a computer connection and an unwavering obsession to solve the coldest, most macabre of cases. Author Deborah Halber follows these obsessives and finds out what drives their curiosity."
Allison Hoover Bartlett, bestselling author of THE MAN WHO LOVED BOOKS TOO MUCH:
“An integral component of NamUs is the group of responsible, dedicated volunteers who scour case details in an effort to match long-term missing persons to unidentified decedents. In The Skeleton Crew, Deborah Halber follows the journey of some of these volunteers who have made it their mission to assist criminal justice professionals in resolving those cases.”
Chronicling everything from quantum weirdness to snail slime for publications such as MIT's Technology Review, Tufts Medicine and the Boston Globe. Read more >>
Todd Matthews and a host of others became so obsessed with strangers' lost identities they compromised their own well-being in the quest for answers. View media >>